Joe Dante's Trailers From Hell web site presents the original theatrical trailer for the British crime classic Get Carter starring Michael Caine, directed by Mike Hodges. Diretor Neil Marshall is an admirer of the film and provides the commentary track over the trailer, which can also be viewed without commentary. Click here to view
Dateline Hollywood, March 21, 1967: Steve McQueen gets the honor of having his handprints immortalized in cement at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, as commemorated in this snippet from a British film magazine of the era.
The AMC Filmsite presents an interesting decade-by-decade analysis of the greatest boxoffice disasters of all time. Author Tim Dirks points out what many critics fail to: that some of these films, such as Cleopatra, were extremely popular with audiences but their extravagant production costs caused the studios to bleed red ink. He also includes a caveat that some films that lost great sums in initial release were able to slide into profitability over many years through TV rights and video sales. Dirks is also not part of the crowd of critics who pile on every movie that lost money. He makes the case for some films of artistic merit such as Friedkin's Sorcerer, despite the fact that it was a boxoffice flop. The charts adjust the boxoffice grosses for inflation, which gives new relevance to what the greatest flops really were. Click here to read.
What a year it was! In 1966, you could see the following movies playing locally in Winnipeg, Canada: Dean Martin as Matt Helm in The Silencers, James Coburn as Our Man Flint, The Trouble With Angels, Carry on Cleo, The Sound of Music and a quadruple feature of monsters flicks: Die Monster, Die, Eegah, Tomb of Ligeia and Planet of the Vampires.
With all the (deserved)
appreciation of Zulu, it’s hard to
imagine it was a massive flop in the US. Independent producer Joe Levine
planned a double whammy for summer 1963 – The
Carpetbaggers, an adaptation of the sizzling Harold Robbins bestseller, and
Zulu. He even arranged for Zulu to follow The Carpetbaggers into
the prestigious Palace first run cinema in New York. Spending big, Levine,
whipped up a huge marketing campaign for Zulu,
which had notched up record grosses in the UK.
But the two films could not
have been further apart. Where The
Carpetbaggers stormed to $862,000 from 25 theatres in the New York area, Zulu could only manage $190,000 from 30
in Los Angeles. Zulu scored well in
first run in Detroit (running four weeks) and Chicago, but was quickly (perhaps
too quickly) consigned to drive-ins. Failure to find a niche was not for want
of trying. In successive weeks in LA, it was supported by Nicholas Ray's epic 55 Days At Peking, comedy Ensign Pulver, and Viking adventure The Long Ships.
To salvage something, Levine send it out, within a couple of months
of initial release, as the support film to Italian-made Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow starring Italian sexpot Sophia Loren,
possibly one of the strangest movie programs of all time. In the annual box
office rankings, The Carpetbaggers
placed second. To get into the Variety
annual chart, you needed to make more than $1m in rentals (the amount the
studio received after the cinema had taken its cut). Seventy-eight movies
managed this. Zulu was not one of
(Brian Hannan is the author
of the forthcoming The Reissue Bible.)
The addictive retro web site Avengers in Time presents a short but heartfelt tribute to the classic British TV series The Persuaders starring Tony Curtis and Roger Moore as rich playboys who get swept up in incredible adventures. The expensive 1971 series was produced by Lew Grade and didn't last long. Although it was very popular internationally, it never caught on in the all-important American market and was thus canceled. However, this did free up Roger Moore to take over the role of James Bond, thus providing a silver lining for his fans. Click here to access tribute page which includes the superb opening credits with music by John Barry. It makes it all the more painful that many of today's TV series dispense with opening credits altogether.
Arthur Penn’s Bonnie and Clyde had all the makings of
a substantial hit when it opened in August 1967, its take increasing every week
for four weeks at the Forum and Murray Hill cinemas in New York. The violence,
the fashion, the birth of a new star (Faye Dunaway) and the rebirth of an old
one (Warren Beatty) attracted acres of publicity. But somewhere along the way,
the movie lost momentum, ending the year at a lowly 37th on the
annual box office chart. But in December, Joseph Morgenstern of Newsweek revised his previous negative
review and a week later Time magazine
devoted six pages to ‘the movie of the year’. Although Beatty, also the producer, agitated
for a reissue, Warner Brothers hardly went hell-for-leather. It reopened at the
394-seat New View in Los Angeles and the even smaller 160-seat Janus Two in
Washington. The week before in LA at the 810-seater Vogue Bonnie and Clyde grossed $16,000 but, backed by a new campaign, the
much smaller New View generated $22,000, with queues, not surprisingly, around
the block. Elsewhere, the movie was booked into small cinemas where the
prospect of a holdover was high. The publicity machine kicked into top gear as the
Oscars approached (it was nominated for ten). When re-launched in over 300
cinemas, it spread like wildfire. A second stab in St Louis broke the house
record. Compared to original release,
takings in most cinemas doubled. In Los Angeles it broke the record for a ‘multiple
run’ (wide release) and challenged Mary Poppins’ record for most chart
appearances by a non-roadshow in Variety’s
weekly box office Top Ten. The reissue supplemented the original $5m gross
by another $33m.
From The Reissue Bible by Brian Hannan to be published later this year.
(Click here for review of Bonnie and Clyde DVD special edition)
Fritz Weaver discusses the making of Fail Safe with Cinema Retro Editor-in-Chief Lee Pfeiffer at a 2009 screening of the film at The Players club in New York City.
Sidney Lumet's 1964 thriller Fail Safe centers on an accidental launch of an American nuclear bomber strike on Moscow and the frantic efforts of the U.S. President (superbly played by Henry Fonda) to convince the Soviet premiere not to retaliate. The tension-packed film was a boxoffice dud at the time, despite glowing reviews. That is because Stanley Kubrick convinced Columbia to buy the rights to the film and shelve it until after his similarly-themed Dr. Strangelove went into release. Kubrick rationalized that if Fail Safe were released first, the impact would have been so great on the public that no one would have accepted a satirical version of the same premise. The result? Strangelove became a boxoffice smash while Fail Safe took many years to reach its intended audience through television broadcasts. The film has no musical score and is masterfully shot in a documentary-like style. There are outstanding performances by Walter Matthau, Dan O'Herlihy, Frank Overton, Larry Hagman and- in his big screen debut- Fritz Weaver. Look for Dom DeLuise in a rare dramatic role.
Click here to order special DVD edition from Amazon
Loren did receive equal line billing with Charlton Heston in print ads for El Cid (as indicated by this trade magazine advertisement for the film's reissue). However, she was appalled to find that the billing arrangement on a Times Square billboard had relegated her name to an area below Heston's.
By Brian Hannan
A row broke out
this week in Italy over promoters choosing to give Brad Pitt top billing for 12
Years A Slave, a film that depicts the plight of an African American man played
by Chiwetel Ejiofor. That reminded me of a lawsuit brought by Sophia Loren over
El Cid in January 1962.Although
contractually guaranteed equal billing with Charlton Heston, her name had been
featured below his on an electric billboard in Times Square in New York
promoting the Samuel Bronston roadshow presentation at the Warner Theatre. Her name
on the billboard was in equal size to Heston’s but she demanded it should be on
the same line. She sought a temporary injunction in the New York Supreme Court
to stop the sign being used and, in a drastic turn of events, then demanded her
name be removed entirely from all promotion to do with the film. She claimed
the action had damaged her prestige and reputation. The New York court
disagreed. Aggrieved at being denied the temporary injunction, she was set to
continue her lawsuit and there was a stalemate for several days in February until
common sense prevailed. Loren was no stranger to rows over billing and later
had a titanic tussle with Marlon Brando over who got top billing on The Countess
From Hong Kong. She lost that one, too.
Click here to read the original formal complaint filed by Sophia Loren's attorneys.
Regular readers know that every Christmas, Cinema Retro pays homage to Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, the Citizen Kane of all movies relating to Santa Claus battling creatures from other planets. The 1964 $20,000 wonder has been a cinematic legend among bad movie lovers. We're happy to present the entire film for your (guilty) viewing pleasure.
If you love director Richard Brooks' slam-bang 1966 Western The Professionals as much as we do, you should click here to gaze at some great international posters from the film that starred Burt Lancaster, Lee Marvin, Robert Ryan, Claudia Cardinale (at her hottest!), Jack Palance, Woody Strode and Ralph Bellamy. It's part of Steve Thompson's blog celebrating his favorite year: 1966, and what baby boomer could argue with him?
From the rumored suicide of a Munchkin to debates about how many dresses Dorothy wears, there are still controversies attached to the beloved 1939 MGM screen version of The Wizard of Oz. Click here to find the facts behind the legends.
The "Trailers From Hell" web site presents the original trailer for the 1972 Western Chato's Land starring Charles Bronson. John Landis provides an amusing commentary for the trailer, reflecting on his experiences working on the film and enduring the "Mad Dog and Englishman" himself, director Michael Winner. Click here to watch
Joe Dante's addictive Trailers From Hell site presents the re-release trailer for the MGM Laurel and Hardy classic Way Out West. Director John Landis provides commentary for the 1937 film and there is an option to watch the trailer with its original narration. Click here to view
Unseen blooper reel footage has surfaced from the 1976 filming of the original Star Wars movie. Before anyone gets carried away, the snippets are disjointed and only moderately amusing. Nevertheless, any footage that we haven't seen is more than welcome. The blooper reel is being included in a new interactive book, The Making of Star Wars. To view the reel (some of which has no audio) click here
To order the book discounted from Amazon click here
Here's a great way to kick off Halloween...watch Ted Cassidy's 1965 appearance on Shindig in which he leads a groovy rendition of "The Lurch", the song he immortalized on The Addams Family. Cassidy even cut a hit 45 RPM of the song!
Click here for the fascinating story of how one determined man managed to restore the original Volvo P1800 driven by Roger Moore in The Saint TV series. The car had been abandoned and had been relegated to the status of a complete wreck. Kevin Price found the car neglected in a field in North Wales but it still took six years for him to persuade the owner to sell it to him. Price then spent a decade tracking down replacement parts and six more years to restore the vehicle, which is the original one driven by Moore in the series. The car is now a star in its own right at UK auto shows.
It's one of our favorite comedies of all time. We were delighted to find this Youtube footage from Hollywoodbackstage.com showing the star-studded 1963 premiere of Stanley Kramer's epic comedy It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World at the Cinerama Dome Theatre in L.A. The guest list included stars of the film such as Milton Berle, Edie Adams and Terry-Thomas along with George Burns, Barbara Rush, Maureen O'Hara, James Garner and Rhonda Fleming.
Writer Kara Kovalchick takes a look at those vanishing elements that used to make movie-going so enjoyable but which now seem relegated to the distant past. From red velvet curtains to free dishes to uniformed ushers, these are reminders of how an evening at the movies used to be a special night out. It recalls an era when people didn't have the ability to disrupt their fellow viewers by texting and chatting on mobile phones! Click here to read
Director King Vidor's follow-up film to his massive success The Big Parade, was a relentlessly downbeat silent film titled The Crowd. The film was extremely ambitious and boasted superb production design in its cynical depiction of how big city life seems to work relentlessly against an ambitious young man and his new bride. The film's downbeat story line alienated many viewers during its initial release in 1928, but the movie foreshadowed the onslaught of unexpected misery that would envelop America the very next year with the onset of the Great Depression. In a column on TCM's Move Morlocks blog, writer R. Emmet Sweeney looks at the background of this fascinating film and reveals that it's eventual release on home video is dependent upon sales of Warner's forthcoming The Big Parade DVD. (TCM recently ran a rare broadcast of the film.) He also discusses the tragic fate of the movie's star, James Murray. Click here to read
Natalie cools off even as she heats up the audience in Splendor in the Grass.
Kimberly Lindbergs of the Movie Morlocks site presents her "Four Reasons Why I Love Natalie Wood" through analyzing Love With the Proper Stranger, This Property is Condemned, Rebel Without a Cause and Splendor in the Grass. (What? No West Side Story or Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice???) We concur that Natalie Wood's screen presence just seems to get better with time. Click here to find out why.
For a brief shining moment she was the "it" girl. In the 1940s, gorgeous Veronica Lake took Hollywood by storm. With her blonde mane done up in a distinctive style that is still very much in-vogue, Lake had the makings of an enduring sex siren. However, poor career choices coupled with a troubled personal life led to an equally rapid decline and an early death in relative obscurity. Writer Shawn Dwyer looks at the rise and fall of this Hollywood legend. Click here to read
The Total Film web site provides a useful guide to 50 cinematic gems that have not received the recognition they deserve. Although there is a heavy concentration on horror movies, the list does include other genres as well. Click here to view
Director James Whale's impact on early sound cinema cannot be overstated. His classics Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein are as revered as ever by critics and retro movie lovers. On the TCM Movie Morlocks blog, writer Kimberly Lindbergs delves into Whale's psychological state and examines how his experiences in WWI might have influenced his films...and possibly led to his suicide in 1957. Click here to read
The Penthouse production of Caligula raised more than a few eyebrows with the last minute decision to insert hardcore sex scenes.
On the heels of the news that the leading actors had been cast for the film adaptation of the steamy S&M-laced bestseller Fifty Shades of Gray, the web site Do You Remember takes a stroll down memory lane and looks at other notorious major releases that are primarily remembered for their sexual content. Click here to indulge.
Here's an unlikely pairing. It happened at the 1971 Grammy Awards when John Wayne presented the award for Best Motion Picture score. After insufferable small talk with Andy Williams, the Duke reads the winners: George Harrison, John Lennon, Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney for their score for Let It Be. Of course the Beatles were going kaput around that time, but Paul McCartney did dash up to the stage (with wife Linda) to utter a brief "Thank you" before running off again. Still, it's a fascinating pairing: Duke Wayne and Paul McCartney.
One of our favorite late career John Wayne movies is McQ, which finds the Duke as a tough detective tearing up Seattle to avenge the murder of his partner...and uncovering corruption in the top levels of the police department. The film presents one of the most exciting car chases of the era. Click here to watch the original trailer
Here's a look back at what was playing in Winnipeg, Canada during one week in 1966. The Sound of Music, Alfie, Doctor Zhivago, the remake of Stagecoach, The Appaloosa, How to Steal a Million, Gigi, The Glass Bottom Boat, Battle of the Bulge, A Fine Madness, The King and I, The Greatest Story Ever Told, Torn Curtain and a great double bill of Our Man Flint and Von Ryan's Express. Those were the days, indeed!
MacMurray was brilliant in Billy Wilder's 1960 classic The Apartment, playing the philandering married boss of Shirley MacLaine.
For the baby boomer generation, Fred MacMurray was primarily known as the affable widowed dad on My Three Sons and the star of numerous Walt Disney films. However, as Movie Morlocks writer Greg Ferrara points out, MacMurray once excelled at playing charismatic creeps, giving brilliant performances in films such as Double Indemnity, The Caine Mutiny and The Apartment. Click here to appreciate the dark side of MacMurray's talents.
Canadian cartoonist Sophie Cossette uses her considerable talents to pay tribute to cult movies and their stars and directors. Click here to view her tribute to "King Leer" himself, producer/director Russ Meyer, who certainly never went flat busted -both financially and in terms of the films he made, which showcased the best endowed actresses he could find. This was all done in an era when silicone implants would have been considered "cheating". Meyer searched out those ladies who were naturally "gifted" and made quite a few sex comedies that are so tame today they could be shown on the Disney Channel. However, in the 1960s and 1970s, they served to titillate an entire generation of men.
Newly released documents and a new book unveil heretofore unknown facts about the infamous meeting between Elvis Presley and President Richard M. Nixon in 1970. The King had written to the President in the hopes of being appointed a federal agent so that he could presumably play a role in Nixon's anti-drug war. In fact, his real motive was simply to acquire the badge as part of his collection of law enforcement memorabilia. Nixon aides persuaded the President to meet with the legendary entertainer at the White House. The meeting was initially awkward for both men. Elvis was out of his element in the White House and seemed a bit intimidated in the presence of Mr. Nixon, who, in turn, was not exactly a leading advocate of rock 'n roll music. Elvis was giddy when Nixon arranged for him to get his badge as an "honorary" agent. In the course of their 30 minute conversation, Elvis discussed how he felt he could have a persuasive effect on young people to avoid drugs (though ironically, he was falling victim to addiction himself). He also made some shocking comments about The Beatles that, when they were revealed publicly, alienated the Fab Four, who had idolized Elvis. For more click here
The Huffington Post's Jamie Scot takes a fascinating look back at the origins of gay and lesbian paperback novels that flooded the American market in the post-WWII era. It was the first acknowledgement that gays and lesbians represented significant numbers of the population, a fact attested to by the explosive sales of these novels. For the gay population during this period of cultural conservatism, these books provided a bit of titillation that heterosexual men had never had a problem accessing. More surprising to publishers was the significant sales of lesbian-themed books, some of which became bestsellers. (Undoubtedly, many of these sales could be attributed to men, who have always been preoccupied with lesbian sex.) Like any erotic paperbacks of the period, the covers of the gay-themed books featured provocative, highly suggestive artwork. Most of these artists labored in anonymity but today pulp fiction paperback art is considered by many to be an important aspect of American popular culture from this time period. Click here to read
It's hard to believe it's been 40 years since a young filmmaker named George Lucas took the world by storm with his Oscar-nominated classic American Graffiti". The film boosted Lucas' name in the industry and paved the way for him to become one of the most influential forces in the history of international cinema. Writer Michael Coate of The Digital Bits web site presents a superb look back at this timeless film and fills you in on many facts you probably didn't know. Click here to read.
Joe Dante's Trailers from Hell site presents the original theatrical trailer for Dirty Harry. You can listen to the original version or choose the option with commentary by noted screenwriter and director Alan Spencer. Click here
Entertainment Weekly film critics Owen Gleiberman and Chris Nashawaty combine their insights to produce an article that provides their opinions of the ten best and five worst Woody Allen movies. Click here to see if you agree.
The latest attempt to revive The Lone Ranger as a big screen tent pole franchise may be a financial bomb for Disney, but at least the studio is not alone in its misery. Flashback to 1980 when Universal attempted the same feat by launching The Legend of the Lone Ranger, a big budget (for the time) Western that almost eclipsed Heaven's Gate as the much-hyped box-office dud of the period. Even way back then, the idea that the Lone Ranger could be revived as anything other than a comedic film franchise seemed doubtful to many. The Western had evolved since the legendary hero had become a TV sensation beginning in 1949 with Clayton Moore playing the title role and Jay Silverheels portraying his loyal sidekick Tonto. Since then, audiences became weened on Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch, the Sergio Leone "Man With No Name" trilogy and even old Duke Wayne churning out far grittier Westerns in his later years than many would have ever imagined possible. The notion of a man in a white hat hiding behind a skimpy mask seemed too hokey for words. Nevertheless, some major talent was involved in the Universal project, but it went awry from the start, beginning with the casting of Klinton Spilsbury, an unknown actor, in the title role. Studios had plucked actors from obscurity with successful results before. Christopher Reeve became a major star as Superman and George Lazenby's brief, one picture tenure as James Bond was not due to audience rejection, but his own decision to quit the series. Thus, there was some reason to believe lightning could strike again. It did- but it landed directly in the Universal board room. Spilsbury fit the bill physically with dynamic good looks...but his inexperience made for major problems behind the scenes for director William A. Fraker. Additionally, the producers undermined his performance by having actor James Keach dub most of his dialogue. Then there was a near-fatal accident involving a legendary stuntman, the bizarre decision to take legal action to prevent aging Clayton Moore from wearing his original Lone Ranger mask at autograph shows (which resulted in a public backlash) and even the assassination attempt on newly-elected President Ronald Reagan would contribute to the film's disastrous reception at the boxoffice. The downside of all this is that each time a Western performs poorly, studios shirk from making any more for long periods of time, thus hexing the only uniquely American cinematic art form. For a full report on the story behind The Legend of the Lone Ranger, click here to read a terrific article by writer Jeff Labrecque of Entertainment Weekly.
Writer Michael Coate of The Digital Bits web site commemorates the 50th anniversary of Fox's epic Cleopatra with a look at the film's roadshow engagements. (Roadshow presentations were prestigious, extended-runs in top theaters in major cities. Blockbuster films would play in these theatres for months before the movies would go into general release.) Coate also explains that the original, 4 hour version of the film only ran for an abbreviated time before being cut by one hour at the insistence of studio bosses. There is no question that Cleopatra brought Fox to the brink of bankruptcy. However, the notion that it did not attract large audiences is false. The movie drew huge crowds for extended periods of time around the globe (one roadshow engagement lasted 64 weeks!) The reason the film failed financially was because of its troubled production history that saw the movie go into a hiatus period, the leading men were recast and production was switched from England to Italy. The result was a budget that skyrocketed beyond control and all but ensured the movie's financial failure. Looking at it today, it remains an impressive movie and one of which it can truly be said, "They don't make 'em like that any more!" Click here to read
Those were the days! This entertainment section from the Dallas Morning News of May 3, 1964, shows a wealth of great movies in theaters that week- along with a stage appearance by cast members of The Beverly Hilllibillies! Among the movies you could check out this week were Tom Jones, Lilies of the Field, Move Over, Darling, Seven Days in May. The Silence and The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao. (Courtesy of Jim Kroeper collection)
Retro movie lover Steven Thompson has put together a marvelous web site that pays tribute to his favorite year: 1966. It's hard to argue with his logic, especially if you were growing up then. The Beatles, James Bond, Batman, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., British invasion rock, great comic books, and so much more all at your fingertips. The site features vintage ads for movies, TV shows and products of the day, as well as vintage comic strips and film clips. Click here to view
It was June 6, 1944 when the greatest military operation in history took place. American, British and Canadian forces landed at Normandy to liberate Europe. The amazing courage of the Allied forces not only saved democracy on the continent but also made it possible for Germany to re-emerge as one of the great nations of the world. No film has ever better captured the overall epic nature of the battle, as seen from both sides, than Darryl F. Zanuck's The Longest Day. Why not watch it today with your kids and grandkids to remind them of how unimaginable courage made it possible for us to have the freedoms we enjoy today? It's also a hell of a good movie!
Cushing, seen here in Frankenstein Created Woman, adorned the cover of Cinema Retro issue #25. (See our back issues section)
Stephen Whitty, film critic for the Star Ledger newspaper in New Jersey, recently ran wrote a major article commemorating Peter Cushing on what would have been his 100th birthday. The actor who personified class and style in British cinema left a remarkable legacy that, happily, is now being rediscovered by film scholars. Click here to read.
With Superman about to be revived (again) for the big screen, the Geeks of Doom site looks back at the entry that put an end to the Christopher Reeve Supey franchise. Superman IV: The Quest for Peace was to be the most ambitious entry in the series. However, despite the presence of Reeve and Gene Hackman (reviving Lex Luthor), the 1987 film was a disaster on all levels. The article includes extensive comments from actor Jon Cryer, who was initially thrilled to be in the film but later learned from Reeve that the final cut would be a major disappointment, thanks to penny-pinching producers who reduced the budget by about 2/3. Click here to relive the unhappy memories.
Brian Hannan, author of the new book The Making of Lawrence of Arabia, has unveiled a startling fact: an early production of David Lean's masterpiece was announced in January 1953- a decade before Lean's version was released. It was to be filmed in Cinerama and star John Wayne! Now, there are no bigger fans of the Duke than us, but what were they thinking? Fortunately, plans fell apart for this particular film. Hannan relates how Marlon Brando was Lean's first choice for the role, so even in saner hands the emphasis was in casting an American actor as the iconic Brit. By the way, Duke Wayne may have dodged a bullet with Lawrence, but a few years later he went one worse by playing Genghis Khan in The Conqueror! For more click here
The Beatles with Brian Epstein at the 1964 London premiere of A Hard Day's Night.
The next time you hear American politicians debating the "onerous" tax burden on the wealthiest citizens, consider England in the 1960s when the tax rate on their highest earners skyrocketed to 98%. This forced many of the UK's most creative artists into tax exile. By the time sanity had returned to the British tax code, some of these people had left their native country permanently. The Beatles were among the most notable victims of the tax system but they also suffered from an abundance of bad business deals. Their hip, young manager Brian Epstein is fondly recalled for shepherding the Fab Four throughout their early career but Epstein (who died in 1967) was not the best business manager they could have had. An article in Bloomberg News features an interview with Peter Brown, the 74 year old man who took over managing the Beatles after Epstein's death. Brown reflects on Epstein's shortcomings and the turmoil that followed his death. Turns out Epstein had negotiated ludicrously low royalty deals for the lads from Liverpool that literally saw them making a fraction of a penny on every record sold. It was only due to the sheer number of records sold during the Beatlemania era that they ended up being wealthy in spite of these bad deals. Epstein also foolishly negotiated away the rights to Beatles merchandising for peanuts. Although the Beatles became fabulous wealthy, they always remained haunted by the fact they were cheated out of proper royalties and never even controlled the rights to the records they made. For more click here
If not for a last minute change, legendary opera star Maria Callas would have been the female lead in The Guns of Navarone.
Opera superstar Maria
Callas was set to make her movie debut in Carl Foreman’s iconic war film The
Guns Of Navarone, according to a new book, The Making Of The Guns
Of Navarone launched this weekend at the Bradford Widescreen Film
Festival (April 26-29) by Scottish film historian Brian Hannan.
The singer had scandalised
the world by her affair with Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis, who
would later marry Jackie Kennedy, widow of assassinated president John F
Kennedy. Callas was first choice for the role of the older female Greek
partisan. Producer Carl Foreman promised ‘mucho love scenes’ with star Gregory
Commented Hannan, ‘At the
time, Maria Callas was the most famous woman in the world, a fiery mixture of
Princess Diana and Madonna, the role model for every diva to come. This was an
astonishing publicity coup. Names did not come any bigger. Although few opera
stars can act, she was considered more than capable. Smouldering European
actresses like Sophia Loren were much in demand in Hollywood at the time and
she fitted the bill.’
Born in America in 1923 to
Greek parents, she mad her singing debut in 1941 but her early career was
tumultuous and it was not until she married wealthy industrialist Giovanni
Meneghini that she achieved major success. Even so she battled with employers
and was known as much for her tantrums, walkouts and love life as her singing. Her
presence was a considerable departure from the best-selling book by Scottish
writer Alistair Maclean for in the original there were no female characters.
The news received worldwide
coverage – Callas was that big a star. Hollywood was agog. Offers of movie
roles had been made to Callas before and she had turned them down. There was a
history of opera stars making the jump to Hollywood. Popular 1930s due Nelson
Eddy and Jeanette Macdonald had both been opera stars. More recently Mario
Lanza had been a box office sensation - his film The Great Caruso had ranked
third in the US box office charts in 1951 ahead of Marlon Brando in A Streetcar
Named Desire and Elizabeth Taylor in A Place In The Sun. There had also been a
trend for operas to be filmed and show in cinemas.
But Callas’s career had
been riddled with bust-ups and insiders predicted the relationship with Foreman
would not last. Callas abruptly quit the production before shooting began and
was replaced by classical actress Irene Papas.
Nor was she the only
casualty of the filming. Producer Foreman lost first choice
actors Cary Grant and William Holden, director Alexander Mackendrick
(The Ladykillers), scriptwriter Eric Ambler (Mask Of Dimitrios),
and a second female star Annette Stroyberg, wife of director Roger Vadim who
had turned Brigitte Bardot into a star. British actor David Niven nearly died
during filming. The set, the biggest ever built in Britain, for the
titular guns collapsed and had to be rebuilt and the budget soared by
Despite these setbacks, the
film burned up the box office and was the number one film of the year and
nominated for seven Oscars.
Hannan has also published
two books on Hitchcock – Darkness Visible:Hitchcock’s Greatest Film and Hitchcock’s
The author will introduce a
new restored 4K version of The Guns Of Navarone film on Sunday
April 28 preceded by a book signing of his book and its companion The
Making Of Lawrence Of Arabia.
The Making Of The Guns Of
Navarone by Brian Hannan is published by Baroliant Press, priced £8.99 and
is available on Kindle and in bookshops.
(U.S. readers can click here to order the Amazon Kindle edition)
Here for your online viewing pleasure we have included the following nifty recreations of those great one-reel Super 8 sound horror and sci-fi digests of the past in a special salute to Castle Films and Ken Films! All but "Bride of Frankenstein" and "Return of Frankenstein" were edited by one Henry Senerchia, who may be contacted at email@example.com to direct your comments. Each film isguaranteed to produce 9 minutes of "warm fuzzies" for any "monster kid" who was lucky enough to grow up in the heyday of those great boxed film digests that winked seductively from spinning racks and shelves in elite camera departments of the finest department stores of the 1960's and 70's!
If you're a Cinema Retro reader, chances are you've probably seen director Don Siegel's 1971 crime classic Dirty Harry more times than you can count. However, what you may not know is that the film was not originally developed for Clint Eastwood. Other actors from John Wayne to Burt Lancaster turned it down first and Frank Sinatra had actually been signed for the role before an injury to his hand made him drop out. The web site www.todayifoundout.com provides some fun facts about the making of the movie. Click here to read